Archive for the ‘MS-SHADYiness’ Category

Forget Where I’m Going. Here’s Where I’m Coming From.

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Thomas Holbrook II | *NIXEDBLOG

There are times when opinions are stated and thoughts are provoked. Danijel Orsolic stirred up a bit of controversy when helios was attempting to bring up a point that I was trying to earlier.  An interesting discussion ensued on LXer as well.  I figured I would take time out to explain where I am coming from philosophy-wise myself.  It is of course subject to change given time and availability of new information.

You see, I have nationalistic leanings…. to a point.  I do not believe that Government should be putting flashlights in the orifices of their people if you catch my drift.  In that sense, I have Libertarian leanings as well.  When I kept reading the argument of nationalism being a bad thing, I realized there was a bit of confusion.  Before going any further, allow me to clear up said confusion.

Nationalism vs Jingoism

Yes, there is a difference.  Nationalism involves being proud of having a unique identity of sorts.  For example, someone living in France can identify themselves as part of that country by declaring that they are French.   This does not mean they are better than everyone else.  It simply means that their home means something to them.  I identify myself as an American.  I love my country, even now, due to many of the opportunities that it holds (at the moment).  I also liked the concept of the Founding Fathers, who deliberately set up the governmental system so that those in Congress would spend more time debating than anything (that is how it was supposed to work) so that those in all the individual states could go on with their lives as they saw fit.

Jingoism on the other hand is the real danger.  It is what I refer to as blind patriotism.  Just because I still like my home does not mean I will not criticize it or think of ways it could improve.  Jingoists on the other hand believe in aggressive foreign policies in the name of “national security.”  Most Neo-Conservatives could in a sense be considered jingoists.  I consider myself an American patriot, not an American jingoist.  Keep in mind there is a big difference.

Now allow me to continue.

My Philosophy

I personally believe in freedom of choice.  For instance, I myself do not own a single firearm.  I do not mind seeing guns in videos and such, but I would rather not be near them if I can help it.  I made this decision myself, and I am not going to take such a decision away from everyone else, which is why I support the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights.  I also believe that if one strongly believes in something, they should have the right to stand up for their beliefs, no matter how controversial it may seem.  Remember that speech may be countered by speech.

I am a strong believer in the liberty of the individual and that infringe upon those liberties is wrong.  However, I am not a one-worlder.  I can see all sorts of problems if there was indeed a world government enacted, and the thought of such a thing at present absolutely frightens me.  We can not have a one world government, because it would not work, period.  Think of how many regions have corrupt regimes already.  If one expects a one world government to solve the “evils” of smaller nation-states, I have some bad news…. it will only result in a very negative worldwide form of tyranny.

Again, while I do love the country I am in, that does not mean that I am a blind patriot.  I do see some things that are very wrong, and on a very broad spectrum.  For starters, the USA Patriot Act troubles me deeply to this day, especially section 802.  To give you a hint, let us take a pot smoker having a joint.  Since they could be endangering a human life, are they a terrorist?  Think about that one for a moment, and while doing that, check this out as well.  An American citizen was taken away by the military because they were deemed an “enemy combatant.”

I also do not agree with what is being done in the Middle East, particularly Iraq.  While some would believe that Saddam did have WMDs, one also needs to be reminded of the following:

  1. It was thanks to members of the U.S. Federal Government that he was in power in the first place.
  2. Of course he had WMDs at one point.  Where do you think he got them from?  Hint: Remember Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam?

Now mind you I also do not think in the confines of left-wing/right-wing as I see it as a false paradigm.  In other words, left and right is a false choice pertaining to politics.  I also do not subscribe to the theory of two party politics either.  I do not see Democrats and Republicans as the end all to the political system in the country I am in, and I find it very sad that both major parties have such a dislike for third parties that they will do anything to prevent their recognition.

Like Danijel, I too worry about a North American Union, especially since nobody in Congress debated any of it.  Want proof?  Take a look for yourself:

Yes, I do fear these things coming to pass, which is why I do what I do everyday.  However, I have also come to a very profound conclusion.  If we are to improve ourselves and hopefully make our positive mark on this world, we need to be able to work on what we do agree on and argue about the small details later.  Yes, I do see problems in this country, and I see that corporations such as Microsoft are a part of these problems.*  Free and Open Source Software, or Freedomware, is something that I know a bit about and that is where a good portion of my specialty lies.

It was not a very well organized blog entry, and for that, I do apologize.  Fighting through a headache while writing this was not an easy task.  Therefore, I shall now end this blog by saying the three things that I started out saying, but need to say more often and more than ever before.

  • Entertain Yourself
  • Education Yourself
  • Empower Yourself

*Note that there will be a future blog post about Microsoft.  It is a series of patterns that I have noticed within the last several months.  Stay tuned…..

Pushing the Glacier

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Thomas Holbrook II | *NIXEDBLOG

Free and Open Source Software is a wonderful thing. I use it everyday. Whether it is for writing this article, using Firefox to do research for this article, or using VideoLAN to listen to some streaming Internet radio courtesy of Ormgas, I know that I am saving money, time, and hard disk space by not using the commercial alternatives. For the rest of my college career, I no longer need to pay for expensive software. I am not the only one who has come to this realization.

According to the Associated Press in May of 2002, key segments of the U.S. Federal Government rely on computers in which the operating system utilizes Linux as the kernel of choice. As recently as December of last year, the New York Stock Exchange has moved to platforms that utilize the Linux kernel. Several hundreds of systems were purchased so that they could be independent from other technologies. It is quite clear from the two examples that parts of government and business are getting it. I am sure more are going to understand the meaning behind computing freedom, but how can it be spread?


Jeremiah T. Gray from Linux Insider has given an interesting suggestion: build the educational base. Keep that in mind for later. One of the issues at hand is the great Catch 22:

    • Organizations will only use FOSS if there are budget constraints.
    • The resources lack for professional consultants and administrators.
    • Resentment grows because FOSS is now seen as a distraction from getting things done.
    • That means less experience for potential consultants and administrators.
    • Organizations are reluctant to utilize FOSS platforms.

    Gray said it best:

    Since today’s newbies are tomorrow’s leading engineers, the sooner we get the tools in place to teach them the important lessons they will need in the field, the sooner we can start using the amazing software they will eventually develop.

    This educational base is very important, especially considering Jim Whitehurst has admitted that his company, Red Hat is not the easiest company to do business with. The technology is great, but Whitehurst sees an efficiency problem. Whether it is dealing with customers in a better way or encouraging other companies to share their source code so that development time is not wasted on software that may not be used, one thing will be a deciding factor in Red Hat’s success under his leadership: how educated is the user base? More importantly, how can the user base be effectively educated?

    Back in the 1980’s, Apple was quite dominant in the educational sector. However, they were a recognizable brand outside of the educational sector. They started outside of the educational sector. Yes, it helped that one could find an Apple in school when they were younger. However, if one were to read Steven Levy’s Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, they would soon realize that a user base had to be established. The fact they appeared in the educational sector shows that it was a success.

    So in that same vein, how can more of a user base be built? When enough people become educated, things are brought into the educational sector. In the case of FOSS-based platforms, businesses and government groups are already utilizing FOSS itself. The foot is already in the door, unlike Apple back in the day when they exploded after the education sector picked up their hardware and ran with it. This is where I am seeing a problem, and some questions need to be asked.

    As it stands now, there are three projects currently in operation that are very noble. In one case, it has already impacted the entire world. For all of the projects, they could be the beginning of something wonderful.

    The School

    Imagine if you will a large underfunded school district. Now imagine said school’s principal being interested in the possibility of using FOSS on their computers. What would your reaction be if you were to see such a story appear in your favorite newspaper, on your favorite news channel, or on your favorite FOSS news website? How would you know if it has not?

    Enter Christian Einfeldt of the Digital Tipping Point. It is a project that has the aim of creating a documentary of FOSS entering into multiple cultures of this world. Right now, he is working with a school on migrating to a FOSS-based platform. Due to the Iowa situation concerning Microsoft, said school got some money as part of the anti-trust settlement, hence why so many have thanked the state for staying with the lawsuit for so long.

    This settlement allowed for said school district to purchase machines from ZaReason, as noted in Enfeldt’s Slashdot journal. However, Apple is attempting to charm the district as well, so the machines that they had at the time were not stacking up too well compared to a MacBook. A notorious blogger went out of their way to attempt to tell the world about it. It was then picked up by LXer and soon appeared on my site. Where was everyone else?

    Where was all the other major FOSS news sources? How could they not have noticed that this individual was doing some interesting things on the west coast? Remember, I am speaking of an entire school district that can not be named due to a certain software corporation in the state of Washington who probably would not want to lose any customers from the education sector. Were it not for this notorious blogger, I would not have known about this project myself, nor would I have covered it on my own site.

    Einfeldt is at a potential tipping point as it were for adoption of FOSS on a mass scale. Some call it the domino effect for a reason. When one goes, so follows the rest. Why were we not paying attention to what he was doing all of this time? There are plenty of people out there who love FOSS to death and will sing its praises all day long, which is great. However, why not also spread the word on projects that could cause such a tipping point to occur?

    I once talked to the high school principal of my school in Leeton, Missouri. I asked them about considering something other than Microsoft products for the workstations. I was starting to see the potential at the time of software in which people could have access to the source code. I was told that it was Novell’s Netware technology that kept them on a Windows platform. Lots of schools in my time as a high school student used Netware technology with Microsoft Windows for their technology needs. Even if they switched to SuSE, it would not have meant much as it is to this day a very small district.

    California has plenty of larger school districts though. It has been over two weeks since I read about the project in and of itself. Why were there so few publications out there taking a look at it? There is still an opportunity to make this thing go viral, and I would love it if it were spread all over the web. The question is whether or not the keyboard commandos out there are willing to lift a finger to help out this volunteer on the west coast by raising awareness of such an interesting thing, or are they going to be too concerned with the needs of their own CPU to even care?

    The Town

    While a school is on the verge of potentially converting to FOSS, there is a town in the same state by the name of Felton. The plan is to have an entire town Microsoft free for at least a week in July. If all goes well, it could go on for months on end. Let me ask you, the dear reader this: would it not be a cool thing to wake up one morning and read in your newspaper that an entire town said goodbye to Microsoft? Speaking of press, why has there been such a lack of press on this?

    Carla Schroeder briefly covered it on O’Reilly. Danijel Orsolic also interviewed the people involved for said project which can be read on the Nuxified website. Other than that, there is a brief mention on FSDaily, a comment on the part of a snarky blogger, an episode of The Linux Link Tech Show talking about it, and mentions through feeds on various sites, there has been no mention of said project. Where are the major FOSS news publications? Why are they not even looking at the possibility of an entire town being converted to FOSS, even if it only lasts one week?

    There are plenty of high name participants too. They include and Codeweavers. The *nix distributions that are also being represented include Mandriva, Mepis, AntiX, Wolvix, Fedora, and Ubuntu. They are fairly well known too. Again, where is the FOSS press on this, and why are they dropping the ball?

    Without enough press, an informed public can not know what a project does, and what it requires to get the job done. There are times when making the most noise does not produce the loudest result. The silence from the major FOSS publications out there has been quite deafening. I understand the phrase, “Silence is Golden,” but would they be taking a bit too far in this instance? Will they stop staring at Big Iron for five minutes to take a look at spreading FOSS onto the desktop?

    The Generous Man

    The Golden State itself has been quite the theme in this article, and it in the case of James Burgett, it shall be so once again. This is an individual who finds a use for technology that has been discarded, because previous owners no longer had a use for it. He has also given out computers to the disadvantaged. The Alameda Computer Resource Center itself has been seen as an inspiration. Without it, we may never have a vendor such as ZaReason. The project was already getting attention from the mass media in general, but when a crisis hit them, coverage spiked.

    A bit of an explanation is in order. I screwed up in the past concerning ACCRC. I saw it posted on ZaReason’s website one day, then went off in the *NIXEDBLOG about it. I have since removed the post after rightly being ripped to shreds. Long story short, I leaped before I looked, but I digress.

    The whole point of writing about the ACCRC itself was to raise another question. Why did it take such a crisis to get so many people to pay attention to such a wonderful project? There was great coverage by various outlets beforehand, but after being threatened by the state agency in question, it obviously got more attention. Some could argue that his popularity went up on CNN due to this. How major does a potential threat have to be before people start caring for real about such a project.

    Yes, once again, I am talking about the (lack of) press coverage as of late on ACCRC. Hey, I understand being a bit hesitant due to Burgett’s specific request concerning copyrights, but come on! Since when did we have the right to own somebody’s words, thoughts, feelings, and dreams? I would like to think never, but that would be my naive side talking. I myself would have no problem giving the organization itself the right to redistribute anything as far as interviews go (assuming I can land one… which would be assuming that Mr. Burgett is no longer upset with me… assuming I had the courage to ask, which I lack at the moment in this case).

    Now is the time to turn my attention away from the press in the moment and talk directly to you. Yes I mean you, the one reading this. By that I also mean those who are a part of the whole FOSS movement? There is a very important question I need to ask of all of you.

    Where In the World Have You Been?

    After watching the efforts of advocates of FOSS for quite some time, I can now see how all the effort put into projects like putting the Tux logo onto a race car can feel like pushing a glacier with the others sitting on top of said glacier laughing at you. Of course, this can apply to other projects, where it feels like two steps forward, three steps back. The lack of caring on the part of a massive crowd can be frustrating, especially when at least one prestigious news discussion site refuses to talk about some efforts of promotion. Do we really want FOSS to become more widespread or do we want it to simply happen by magic? Or do we really care about preventing Microsoft from dominating the entire world with their proprietary products?

    Now I know there are those out there who have done their best in promoting FOSS. There are also those who have donated to the projects they saw as worthy of receiving a monetary incentive to keep going. There are also those who are on a very tight budget, and thus supporting such projects with time and/or money may be out of the question. Feel free to turn a blind eye for the next few paragraphs, since I am not aiming this at you.

    Are We Trying to Proliferate FOSS or Are We at War Against Self Preservation?

    Considering that Microsoft is attempting to make another play in Asia itself, one could come to the conclusion that they are afraid of FOSS itself, whether it be Linux, GNU, and other forms of software that are not locked down, but free to be scrutinized and modified as anyone sees fit. What does that tell you? It tells me that unless FOSS is marketed to those not familiar with it, it will eventually start fading away. Forget about the distro wars for a moment, the arguments over Mono, feuds between distros, and feuds between bloggers and distros. This is not doing anybody any good right now.

    What I am asking is a very difficult question to ask. Do you really, truly support FOSS and the philosophy behind it or are you more interested in getting the Internet equivalent of a hand out? Without all the blood, sweat, and tears of the various developers around the world, you would not have the polished product running on your computer at all. I know there are going to be all kinds of “reasons” for either not paying attention the three efforts I listed above. Allow me to address the potential “reasons” now.

    Shooting Down the Excuses

    I can hear it now. Some may say, “Not my country, so why should I care?” I am not saying you should care about the projects listed earlier. Why not support local projects that do not involve sucking up to Big Iron or preaching to the choir? There are plenty of things to do like starting a computer lab, an Internet cafe, and more.

    I can see someone stating that they do not particularly care for one of the individuals. That is perfectly okay by me. Why not support something you do agree with instead of wasting your time telling the person you do not like why they are doing things wrong? If we had more constructive things happening as opposed to people fighting each other all the time due to disagreements in philosophy, then FOSS would have a more prominent position in the world today. Now is the time to stop being so timid in my humble opinion when it comes to Free and Open Source Software.

    Please read over this article, pass it around to your friends, talk about it, discuss it, and think about it. Mark Shuttleworth once told me during the attempt to plaster Tux on a race car that it would be really cool if the community as a whole could get the thing happening. So why am I not scrutinizing his comment to me? Perhaps it was because he had a valid point, and it is one that Jeremiah T. Gray shared in the article I cited earlier. The seeds need to be planted, but are enough people going to kick the digital-handout mentality?

    Only time will tell it seems.

    WA State will not represent you against

    Thursday, February 14th, 2008

    From: “ATG MI Seattle CRC” <>
    Date: 14 Feb 2008 10:31:11 -0800
    Subject: A notice from the Washington State Attorney General’s Office


    Justin — Breithaupt
    PO Box 485
    Pomeroy, WA 99347

    RE: PayPal
    File #: 304741

    Dear Justin —- Breithaupt:

    As you will note in the attached copy of the response we received,
    PayPal declines to make full adjustment of your complaint for the reasons

    We realize you may disagree with the firm’s position, but our office
    does not have the authority under the law to force a resolution on the
    parties. We regret that we are unable to provide further assistance to
    you in this situation.

    We do not have the authority to represent individuals as their
    attorney, nor may we act as a judge or arbiter in individual disputes. You may
    want to contact an attorney if you wish to pursue this matter. If you
    do not have an attorney, there are six county bar associations that
    will provide lawyer referral services.

    For referrals to attorneys in:

    Snohomish County: (425) 388-3018
    King County: (206) 623-2551
    Pierce County: (253) 383-3432
    Lewis County: (360) 748-0430
    Clark County: (360) 695-5313
    Thurston County: (360) 705-8194

    We appreciate your bringing this matter to our attention. Your
    complaint will remain a part of our record of this firm’s business practices.

    Customer Services Specialist 3

    Consumer Protection Division
    (206) 389-2743



    Now if this was not bad enough the attachment they sent was in Microsoft’s new Office 2007

    format that you can’t open in anything else. I believe after reading this that the WA

    State Attorney’s Office has been bought off by It’s their job to protect you.

    So why would they deny this protection to PayPal customers? “our office
    does not have the authority under the law to force a resolution on the
    parties.” They don’t have permission to go against PayPal. WOW!

    I can’t tell you what is in the Word 2007 file they sent me and I can’t upload it because

    I don’t know what is in it. What I can tell you is Office 2003 told me I had to download

    a converter from Microsoft and I did. However the converter was unable to open the file

    as well. Sad Our US Government has major computer issues.

    More Insight Into the XBOX 360 Hacking.

    Saturday, February 9th, 2008

    Yesterday I discovered a whole new world of Trusted Computing in the XBOX 360 that I had never heard of on the Internet or anywhere before.

    I was going in for a job interview at a computer repair / video game arcade / XBOX repair shop. The first thing that they asked me was if I knew much about XBOX 360s. I told them that the only thing I knew was how they worked. I had never taken one apart before and worked on it. I asked them what the problem was. They told me that the original CD/DVD drive had broken inside and they took it out and sent the XBOX 360 to Microsoft for repairs 3 times and each time they got it back they would stick an XBOX 360 game into the console and it said to please put it into an XBOX 360. So the XBOX was having an identity crisis of sorts or was it a trusted computing program in the game itself? They told me that they had been working on the problem for 3 weeks now trying to fix it themselves. So what was the problem?

    Lets think back to the chain of trust that the XBOX uses (video here). First the secret BIOS checks the flash memory and passes trust to it and then it checks the hardware and software and passes trust to it and then it checks the game in the drive and passes root access to it. So where were we going wrong here? The XBOX 360 would play DVDs and CDs. So where were we breaking the chain of Trust? Well the secret Bios was passing control to the flash and to the HD software and playing DVDs and CDs. For some reason when we stuck in a Game and it tried to verify that it was an XBOX 360 it panicked. My conclusion was that every piece of hardware had a hardware ID of sorts and that the BIOS was to check all of them against each other to make sure that the system matched. The game however did not see that all of them matched up the way they were suppose to so It said it didn’t like us.

    So I wanted to see the two XBOX 360 CD/DVD drives. Both had the same model number on them and both looked identical from the outside. But I was suspicious. Why was this drive twice as thick as a standard CD/DVD drive and enclosed in a strange metal cage? I looked at the model number more closely and found a strange unidentified number underneath that ended in 014 and the other new one was 009 if I remember which was which. So now we took the outer shells off and looked at the circuit boards. Both boards looked identical to most people but if you really looked the circuits had different shapes and different resisters in different places. Also the big chips that were in the same place had different numbers on them even though they were the same brand. It had a Panasonic controller chip. So I instructed the guy to exchange the boards (which had the same connectors) between the new and old drives. We put the new drive back in with the old board and the games played.

    Before I knew that they had the old drive still I figured they would have to call Microsoft and explain the problem to them and hope that 1. they understood and 2. they agreed that it could be a possibility.

    We are not done here. Then the guy asked me if we could add more RAM by putting ram chips on top of the old ones in there. I said that if it’s so picky about the hardware being just right then I would not try it because it probably would not work. Besides that it could hurt the Linux hacking ability by changing memory addresses.

    Somewhere in a forum on the net a man claimed that his friend had a 100MB program that put files into Windows XP and turned it into the XBOX 360 game system without needing the secret BIOS or any of the hardware. That got us thinking. What if you could add these files into WINE and convert it into an XBOX 360? What would be the problem? I’ll tell you the problem. 1. The software probably can’t be modified due to the End User License Agreement, 2. The game might try to verify the XBOX 360, 3. WINE runs slow. However this might also give us the free Cedega we’ve been looking for like PlayOnLinux.

    If anyone can use this information to do further XBOX 360 hacking please have at it.

    Related articles and material that might help you with XBOX hacking.

    Hacking the XBOX and Microsoft’s 17 classes of Mistakes

    XBOX 360 Hacking Videos

    XBOX 360 gives off dangerous levels of Radiation and screws up Wal Mart’s Computer system.

    Opinion: FOSS Supporters Need to Think for Themselves.

    Monday, January 7th, 2008

    I’m sure everyone who is reading this is quite curious by the title of this blog post.  Don’t FOSS users already think for themselves?  After all, they use operating systems that utilize some variation of the Linux kernel.  Many utilize Firefox (or Iceweasel) and (or Abiword and Gnumeric).  Many of those who utilize free and open source software read related news sites and blogs pertaining to events, news, opinions, and more.  As of late, I have become slightly disappointed to say the least.

    Half of the disappointment concerns a popular FOSS news site, and the other is an individual who believes that Microsoft bashing needs to come to a halt and that anyone who essentially disagrees will be seen as nothing more than a conspiracy theorist.  So, who is up first?

    A Portion of the LXer Readership

    Yes, I am somewhat disappointed by some of the LXer readership, particularly after reading this forum post here.  For starters, an assumption is made that Justin Breithaupt was angry with Newegg.  That is not the case.  He was simply asked to post any updates with interactions with the Newegg representative.  Nothing more, nothing less.  But this tidbit by remi troubled me…

    We get that you’re upset, but please respect the LXer readers and calm down and try to make better distinctions between what is and is not news worthy. I’ve read the blog posts. I’ve read the comments here and there. There’s nothing news worthy about any of it. This belongs on a personal blog, not on the front page for all to see. Yeah, I’m sure you’ll rant on about free speech or something and that’s wonderful … that’s not what I’m saying. You can speak freely, but are you responsible enough to be given the power to speak at a pulpit that all the world hears *without* abusing that power by announcing your *personal* troubles to the world?

    The problem is not so much the other comments, but the idea that somebody doesn’t like to see a company they like being criticized.  Alright.  I can understand that.  It’s easy to jump in when a popular distribution such as Ubuntu gets criticized because it happens to be a favorite of the one defending it against the criticism, even if said criticism was constructive, but the idea of blaming the editors for not preventing other readers from thinking for themselves goes a bit far in my view.  What happened to thinking and coming to one’s own conclusions?

    Here’s an example.  Quite a while ago, I went on a big rant concerning James Burgett when he was having issues with state environmental regulations.  I let my emotions get the best of me.  Was I censored by the editors?  Oh no.  I was torn to shreds by the readers.  It caused me to change my position and rethink how I was going about with blog posting and writing a full-blown article.  Now that’s the type of thinking I’m looking for, not, “This is bad, so we shouldn’t have to see it.”  Well, don’t read it then.  It’s not that hard.  When reading FOSS-related sites/blogs, there is bound to be something that any reader is going to disagree with, and they said reader should simply get over it and move on (and of course voice their opinion, but expect a response countering what they are saying).

    So here’s a few tips of my own, which are opinion based, so feel free to disagree:

    1. While it is understandable that a blog author may make assumptions based on opinions of other experts and/or other individuals, don’t counter with an assumption of your own.  This is the world wide web of course, and with such things, except with say, Skype and other programs, it is virtually impossible to interpret the true emotions of the person posting.
    2. It’s perfectly alright to disagree with a blog post or a website article.  A site and blog operate off of different principles (one being automated, and another not-so-automated).  However, don’t assume that something isn’t newsworthy.  As they say, one person’s junk is another’s treasure.  In other words, think for yourself and allow others to do the same.
    3. LXer wasn’t made for the editors: it was made for everyone who reads the site.  If something is commonly interpreted as completely garbage, and I dare say, insane, you bet there will be readers who will jump at the chance to prove the person wrong and come up with points of their own.

    So in short, please don’t assume how a particular author of any article or blog post feels, and definitely allow others the opportunity to think for themselves.  The fact that editors offer the opportunity to other readers to decide for themselves what is deemed worthy of discussion is an indication that they may believe that the readers are intelligent.  Finally, don’t pretend to be speaking for an entire group.  No individual ever does.

    Next Up, Bruce Byfield

    Oh yes.  I put this off for quite some time, as LXer readers have commented on one of his articles in which he stated that it was time to get over Microsoft.  I read it.  I also read his blog post in which he suggests that not everyone who uses alternatives are Microsoft haters.  Such a blog post is certainly understandable.  After all, there are those who simply use the alternatives because they fit their needs better than Microsoft-based solutions.

    However, when he posted his opinion on what he believed were the characteristics of conspiracy theorists, a couple of very important questions came to mind.  Bruce, what are you smoking, and more importantly, what are you snorting?  In other words, are you on drugs?

    That was a bit of humor on my part, in which you stated that “Don’t expect a sense of humor, either – that’s usually lost with the self-reflection. If they call you a ‘Microsoft shill’ and you ask, ‘Where can I send an invoice?’ they’ll assume you’ve just revealed your true allegiance, not that you’re making a joke.”  Yes, so called conspiracy theorists do have a sense of humor and more than likely will know a joke when they see one, especially since they are capable of making jokes themselves.  Let us now examine a brief portion of his blog post concerning alleged conspiracy theorists:

    However, you should also bear in mind that you can’t win. Try to refute a conspiracy theorist, and you simply prove to them that you’re the enemy. In the end, the best thing you can do for yourself – to say nothing of free software – is to stop responding to the conspiracy theorist as soon as you realize the type of person you’re dealing with. The time you spend dealing with a conspiracy theorist will be put to much better use writing code, persuading a friend to try free software or dealing with the real threats to the community instead of the imaginary ones.

    First of all, it is not about winning.  It never is.  it is about learning from a different point of view.  If one can not read and understand a different point of view despite disagreement, then they have intellectual limitations.  Such a thing is true no matter what subject is discussed, whether it be software itself or religion.  Let us examine another tidbit from Byfield’s blog.

    disregard for the rules of evidence: The wise pundit looks for evidence that would hold up in a court of law – that is, establish a point beyond a reasonable doubt. By contrast, conspiracy theorists have no such restraint. For instance, if a company has hired a former Microsoft executive, that is proof that the company is controlled by Microsoft. Never mind that Microsoft is so large that any North American company has a good chance of hiring a former Microsoft executive – the one tenuous connection is enough to establish proof for a conspiracy theorist. Key phrase: “Can it be coincidence that . . . ?” (Sometimes, yes)

    Yes, Microsoft is a large corporation, which also has plenty of influence on U.S. politics, or have you forgotten about thatHow about the influence on world leaders?  Yes, the President of China visited Bill Gates himself way before giving George W. Bush the time of day.  Think about that for a moment.  Of course, other interesting tidbits can be picked up in an article that I wrote myself, but then again, I am quite certain that you know most of what I cite.  Additionally, I wrote about an individual who once worked for Microsoft.  In order to avoid retaliation of any sort, they chose not to have their name revealed.  So I suppose that not all former Microsoft employees are bent on “world domination.”

    Of course when a group of concerned individuals begin voicing their views on Novell and Microsoft, can one blame them, especially after the other things that the Redmond Giant has pulled in the past?  I think “The Beez” had it right on this one. He said that, “If you do not win a discussion you may be defeated but that doesn’t mean you have to be a loser.”  Right on.

    Who else has added to the discussion?  Why the Boycott Novell group of course.   They have also countered Byfield with this post as well.  Brian Proffitt of LinuxToday has also added a balanced perspective to this debate.  So what’s the point of all of this?

    Returning to Byfield’s blog, I noticed a comment from Patrick, a reader of the blog.  He said, “Well, put your cards on the table. Where is the proof of your contentions. Who is showing the signs you are talking about? A few url’s please.”  It’s fair enough to ask for evidence as one reader of this blog has asked Justin to do in a prior post.  What does Byefield give to Patrick?  Here is his response to Patrick quoted below:

    “I said at the start of the blog entry that I wasn’t going to specify who I was talking about. I won’t give them the attention, and I don’t have the time or inclination to start what seems likely to be an endless discussion.

    And if that’s not good enough for you — well, you are reading a blog entry. It’s an expression of opinion.

    However, if anyone else wants to suggest a candidate for discussion, please go ahead. But I’m not going to participate in the discussion much.”

    So Bruce.  Why broach the subject in the first place if you are not going to offer information to support your claim.  I would certainly like to know who has been wild eyed lately, so that I can potentially learn from their mistakes.  However, you have opted not to do so.  You lit a fire and walked away.  This is but a blog, but I myself tend to link to plenty of other resources that support what I am saying.  Those resources also link to yet more resources that may have views that I do not agree with.  That is fine with me.


    The whole point of this blog post is to argue one thing: think for yourself.  Even if it means you will read something you do not like.

    To the readers of LXer, please keep thinking for yourselves.  If you want to shred what I wrote to pieces, feel free to do so.  In fact, I beg you to do so as I will learn from the end result of it.

    Users of FOSS need to think for themselves, rather than be led by one person or another on the Internet.  That especially includes myself, the author of this blog post.  It is not about the freebie part of FOSS that is the most rewarding: it is the potential of raising the level of the mind.

    Is PCLinuxOS Going Backwards? I’m Concerned.

    Saturday, December 29th, 2007

    Is PCLinuxOS Going Backwards? I’m Concerned. (this is a non-biased post)

    I am very concerned for the PCLinuxOS community. A year ago they had a great Linux distribution that any Windows user would gladly switch from. Now however if you try to update PCLinuxOS 2007 (and the new xorg and kernel) it usually won’t continue to boot up. The latest release of PCLinuxOS is Gnome based and as everyone knows Gnome uses an interface and menu that is not recognized by the common Windows User. Of course the official release of PCLinuxOS 2008 will have KDE but there are several mistakes that need to be solved before puttiong out the 2008 Version.

    First of all needing to reboot in order to partition your Hard Drive is just wierd.

    Second of all you should be able to update the Kernel without a major system melt down.

    Third they need all of the Hardware Support that Ubuntu, Mint, and other distros have for the new Laptops and Desktops.

    Finally they need to find a way to be more open to their users.

    I think maybe the reason that the updates that cause PCLinuxOS to not boot all the way may be a result of configuring the new packages for the Gnome version of PCLinuxOS instead. I am glad the PCLinuxOS community is finally releasing another version after a hole year.

    There is a company that followed a similar pattern in development but for a different reason I believe.

    First they put out a very solid OS that people enjoyed from 2001 to 2006. Then they tried to replace it with a “better” OS. The problem was no one liked their better OS so they tried to stick with the older one. Now the updates for that OS are causing decreased functionality. This could be because they only design drivers, programs, and updates for their newer OS or it could be because they don’t want people using the old OS. This company is Micro$oft in case you can’t tell. Like PCLinuxOS using Gnome, Mico$oft uses a new interface that confuses people too. It has a strange start menu. They also did away with a lot of the programs in Vista but I hope that has no comparison with the new PCLinuxOS.

    Now just for fun why don’t I compare Microsoft to the movie iRobot?

    In iRobot you have a story where everyone has a personal robot to care for them that’s 3 laws safe.

    1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

    But USR (that makes the robots) decides it’s time to upgrade to their latest model. They even offer free trade ins. The new Robots are directly linked to Vickie. An AI mainframe that has access to everything. Vickie comes to the conclusion that she can’t trust humans to take care of themselves because of violence and wars. So she bypasses the 3 laws after numerous updates that she gives the robots remotely. Then the robots start imposing curfews and restrictions on humans.

    Micro$oft has done the same thing except they charge us to do it. However they haven’t replaced all of the old XP computers with new better Vista computers yet. They need to figure that part out first. Vista has the ability to be controlled directly by Microsoft both legally and physically. XP can’t be controlled legally without consent but it’s still controlled despite the law. Microsoft has started imposing restrictions on what we can do with our computers. Their new user agreement gives them the Legal rite to add or remove access, programs, or files at will without your permission because you already gave it to them to start using Vista. So it’s a matter of time until Micro$oft will control all of their customers. They have already started doing this to colleges. Colleges who pay rent for Vista have their laptops disabled every 3 months for disconnecting from the Internet. They must call and reactivate their PCs.

    The XBOX 360 violates the FCC’s Laws. Their wireless remotes and consoles disable all wireless devices within a given radius of over 100 feet. Just plugging one in will give off enough radiation to disable an entire Wall Mart. A Cisco expert said that his tests proved that the XBOX 360 uses all 12 channels of WiFi which is clearly illegal. The amount of radiation coming from the device is dangerous and can cause cancer. I would not want anyone to be within 20 feet of the thing when it is on let alone the wireless remote control.

    The difference between the story of iRobot and Micro$oft is that our Government (if following the current trends and history) will condone everything Micro$oft has done. Another example of FCC violations are high power lines. They put out too much radiation and walking directly under them is bad for you. The FCC discovered this but it would cost too much for the Power Company to put a fence between the poles on both sides and to make a protective tunnel underneath. So we have High Power Lines right out in the open.

    Ultumix has some new cool stuff!

    Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

    Ultumix has the illegal lame, and win32 codecs removed and has the newest PCLinuxOS Kernel and Xorg 7.2.0-1. I also included Kormair fonts for Cambodia. This way we can give this distro to a new country. The latest drivers (except ALSA and x11 openchrome) have been installed and updated as of 12-18-07. There are new icons on the desktop to further simplify the user’s experience. The IRC chat has been fixed and there should be more people in there more often. If you use Ultumix please leave the IRC chat open when you are at your computer so that you can help answer other people’s questions. Also don’t e-mail me with hardware problems. Put them in the Forum. If your having a problem chances are someone else has the problem too and is looking for the solution also. I don’t want to send out separate e-mails over and over. The new mouse theme is a plus. Users that want something different will like it and elderly will be able to see it better (tested on the elderly). I also went ahead and included the downloaded biblical texts so that users would not have to download them. This way in foreign countries they can hand out DVD-Rs with an OS that has the Bible in English already on it. If they want another language they can download it. I’m not going to use all the disk space for all the languages of the Bible. That can wait for the Christian Edition. The current ISO is 2.8Gbs.

    No Refunds at even under 30 days!

    Thursday, December 6th, 2007

    When buying certain items on like laptops you are signing an agreement that says that you can not return the item for a refund ever even if it’s damaged, under 30 days, is not as described, or whatever. You can however get a replacement item. In layman’s terms if you buy something under this agreement (I think it even applies to CPUs) you are married to that item for better or worse in sickness and in health tell life does you part. The only way you can get rid of it is to throw it away or sell it.

    My uncle bought an ASUS laptop that had a non functioning Ethernet port. ASUS said that would have to refund me because they would refund Still haven’t heard back from them yet. The laptop is now considered over priced at $1,200 when it’s ACER counter part is only $700.00. This is America and we have certain rights. These corporations have the right to take those rights away from us by getting us to sing agreements that we really don’t want to read.

    Ultumix V0.0.1.1 with added graphics and less complaints?

    Wednesday, December 5th, 2007


    I had to release this version because I was violating the GPL and other licenses in the previous version because what I was stating was misunderstood. So now I have released the politically correct, graphically enhanced, genetically altered, and morally sound version (drum role) . The video on my site is fuzzy and out of focus and if someone could do a better one I would appreciate it. I would even replace the one I have with it. I need people to help me by submitting feedback to my forums on Don’t be afraid to flame me there I won’t ban you unless you decide to use foul language or try to make others angry.

    When Work is Not Enjoyable, it’s Pointless!

    Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

    I’ve seen the arguments go back and forth concerning how to deal with potentially new people learning a different OS. Now, first up, is this little tidbit. Now this particular shall we say “gentleman’s” argument is quite simple really. Let’s quote a piece from his blog post and examine it shall we?

    Yeah, hello, can I get a word in, everybody? I’m Penguin Pete, and this whole [darn] blog is about building that bridge to those 80%. But guess what? I, unlike many out there, know that lying to people and telling them that hard work doesn’t exist isn’t going to make that 80% move over to our side. I do just the opposite: I tell them “Yes, it’s hard, hard work. Just like anything else worth having, it takes a lot of effort. But it won’t kill you. I’ll help you – that’s some of my work – but even if I do, you will still have to work.”

    You wanna switch to Linux? Learn it. You want to be a master programmer? Study it. You want success? Work. WORKWORKWORKWORKWORKWORK Work.

    Call us elitist? Go to hell.

    Say we’re excluding you? Go to hell.

    Want to find an easier way? Waste your time, then. Then, go to hell.

    Now here’s the question here: Does this sound helpful at all to you? If you said no, then you wouldn’t be alone. Now let us take a look here:

    “Call us elitist?”

    So who is this “us?” If there’s a mouse in this guy’s pocket who agrees with everything he says, well then…. that would make sense. Does this person speak for everyone? I would definitely think not.

    “Say we’re excluding you? Go to hell.”

    Wow. Pipe down there bud. This isn’t the military. Anyone can learn this stuff, but they’ve got to be willing to do it. Perhaps by saying what you’re saying, you’re also saying, “If you don’t do it my way, then go away!” This is a point I believe that Eric S. Raymond himself pointed out as quoted by Cathy Malmrose on the blog of helios.

    “If this were primarily a technical problem [between Windows & Linux] the outcome would hardly be in doubt. But it isn’t; it is a problem of ergonomic design and interface psychology, and hackers have historically been poor at these things. That is, while hackers can be very good at designing interfaces for other hackers, they tend to be poor at modeling the thought processes of the other 95 percent of the population well enough to write interfaces that J. Random End-Uer and his Aunt Tillie will pay to buy… We half joke about ‘world domination’, but the only way we will get there is by serving the world. That means J. Random End-User and his Aunt Tillie; and that means learning how to think about what we do in a fundamentally new way, and ruthlessly reducing the user-visible complexity of the default environment to an absolute minimum.” (pgs 222-3)

    That is an important point that ESR has brought to many people. People are often stuck in their ways, and unless they can be convinced, they aren’t going to change one bit. That means (*gasp*) marketing to them! What does that require. Oh yes, work! The same type of work that this guy is so proud of. Then again I could be completely wrong about what he’s saying. Oh well. The whole point is that if FOSS advocates around the world wish to bring in a new audience, they need to understand their audience, which requires effort on their part. Take a look at this entry from the blog of helios. I don’t think he’s quite done with it yet, but…. he’s making an effort to ask people what they’re thoughts are on helping people understand the potential of a different OS.

    Now take Justin Breithaupt. He’s been in the business of selling and servicing computers in the Pomeroy, Washington area. He specifically uses PCLinuxOS as the distribution of choice, because he found it to be the most stablee ever, hence why he is using it as his base for Ultumix. The idea behind Ultumix is simple: take the best aspects of multiple distributions, and put into one comprehensive OS, hence the name. It’s a “mixture” of sorts. Justin’s attempting to do something to address the issue of a new audience. I’ve got a few ideas of my own, but…. he’s the one who is hard at work and trying to figure out how to make custom bootsplash screens and whatnot. There’s still plenty of work to be done, and he’s stepped on some toes to be certain, but….. he’s still trying, even though the reception has been pretty… shall we say “mixed.” 😉

    The whole thing is this. We need to understand where other people are coming from, and what they want in an OS. Microsoft hasn’t really listened as a corporation, but… neither have we. There are those who are doing a good job of course, but we need to start jumping into the fray and drawing in a new audience. ZaReason can’t do it by themselves. There are other OEM companies, but they can’t do it by themselves either. So…. Wait for the next blog post. I’ve got an idea. 😉

    Update: Pertaining to the question of the first block-quote in this post, I don’t like mentioning Penguin Pete’s name often. As talented as he is, he is also extremely misguided and extremely possessive in my view of what he views FOSS should be. He went on to attack two other individuals who were trying to spread FOSS to a new audience, and that is something I just couldn’t understand. Yes, effort is needed in anything that has to be done, but the individual must be convinced to do it. Telling them to go to hell is not the way to do it in my opinion. We’re all human beings here. Isn’t it time we started treating each other like one? Isn’t it time we stopped treating people like they are stupid? That’s the whole issue I’m having. When people see a new system for the first time, and they’re computer “illiterate,” they feel stupid, and deep down inside, they hate it. Nobody likes to be equated with idiots, especially by themselves when they can’t figure out a computer system’s OS.